To be trustworthy, Kentucky wasn’t all the time on my journey radar. Like many individuals unfamiliar with the Bluegrass State, I beforehand had a whole lot of assumptions about it. Nonetheless, the state is rather more than meets the attention, and it’s residence to some unimaginable locations. This checklist breaks down the very best, together with great cities, neat cities, stunning parks, distinctive stops, and extra:
Cities & Cities
As Kentucky’s largest metropolis, Louisville is a hub for almost every little thing that makes this state particular. You’ll discover numerous venues to see stay bluegrass exhibits, race tracks with the nation’s most spectacular horses, and a few wonderful Southern cooking. Not solely that, however Louisville is bursting with tradition and has a thriving artwork group.
Listed here are a number of must-visit spots on this vibrant metropolis:
39. Frankfort Avenue
So far as locations to go in Louisville, this is among the finest to take a look at as quickly as you get into city. Frankfort Avenue, aka “The Avenue,” is a protracted hall that connects town’s most hip and occurring neighborhoods. Alongside it, you’ll see native companies galore, from boutiques to galleries to mother ‘n’ pop eating places.
38. Fairmount Falls Park
On the outskirts of Louisville is Fairmount Falls, one of many metropolis’s hidden pure gems. Visiting looks like discovering a Louisville secret that not many different vacationers get to expertise. The waterfall is tucked away within the forest, a couple of mile’s hike from the path entrance.
To get to this attractive waterfall, you can also make a reservation to access the park at Jefferson Memorial Forest Welcome Center. Since solely three vehicles are allowed within the park per day, a reservation almost ensures you’ll have the falls nearly all to your self.
37. Churchill Downs
Churchill Downs is as well-known because it will get in terms of Louisville establishments. The 2 longest repeatedly working sporting occasions within the US are held at Churchill Downs: the Kentucky Derby and the all-female Kentucky Oaks races. Even in the event you aren’t on the town throughout a kind of, verify the events calendar to see what else is happening on the race observe throughout your go to.
36. Muhammad Ali Middle
The well-known boxer-turned-philanthropist Muhammad Ali is a Louisville native and definitely engenders a beneficiant quantity of hometown pleasure. Opened in 2005, the Muhammad Ali Middle is a nonprofit museum that serves to exhibit Ali’s six core ideas: confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect, and spirituality. It’s probably the most inspirational museums in Kentucky. Discover extra info here.
35. Louisville Mega Cavern
Journey seekers is not going to wish to miss out on a go to to the Louisville Mega Cavern, the world’s solely totally underground aerial ropes course. This former Nineteen Thirties mine web site has 100 acres (a part of a citywide 17 mile array of underground corridors) you can discover by way of Historic Tram Tour or walking tour, on which you’ll study concerning the historical past and geology of the caverns. This is among the high locations to see in all of Kentucky, not to mention Louisville!
34. Cherokee Park
Do you know that Frederick Regulation Olmsted, who designed NYC’s Central Park, additionally designed Cherokee Park in Louisville? It’s true! His eye for design is obvious within the Park, which options quaint woodlands, open meadows, rolling hills, and trickling streams. That’s proper, you possibly can get pleasure from all of that pure magnificence with out having to depart Louisville’s metropolis limits.
Lexington is Kentucky’s second largest metropolis and is spilling over with historical past, Southern attraction, and distinctive locations to go to. Because the nation’s horse capital, you’ll discover a great deal of alternatives to study concerning the metropolis’s horse racing and breeding legacy. Not solely that however Lexington is within the coronary heart of bluegrass nation and packs an enormous punch with its wealthy bourbon tradition.
Listed here are among the finest locations to go to in or close to Lexington:
32. Keeneland Race Observe
Keeneland is an internationally famend racecourse dedicated to preserving the custom of thoroughbred horse racing. The observe is open to the general public, so that you don’t need to attend an precise race to soak up its superbly landscaped gardens and pristine grandstand. The place captures the essence of horse racing tradition and status. This tour includes a stop at Keeneland with an knowledgeable information.
31. Ashland: Henry Clay Property
So far as historic locations in Kentucky, that is simply probably the most well-known. Henry Clay was one among Kentucky’s most well-known statesmen, and Ashland was his residence throughout the top of his profession. The Henry Clay Memorial Basis has an attention-grabbing approach of telling the tales of people that lived, labored, and have been enslaved on the Ashland property. This guided tour is a good way to get essentially the most out of your go to.
30. Kentucky Horse Park
If you happen to can’t get sufficient of horse-related sights, Kentucky Horse Park is the final word vacation spot. Not solely does the park have a completely operational horse farm, but it surely additionally homes the Smithsonian Worldwide Museum of the Horse. You possibly can simply spend a day visiting this equine treasure in Lexington.
29. Raven Run Nature Sanctuary
This pristinely preserved nature sanctuary in Lexington is the final word nature lover’s paradise. Throughout 734 acres, there are over 10 miles of trails to get pleasure from. Spend a heat summer time afternoon climbing, biking, or picnicking right here. Visiting in fall? The autumn colours in Raven Run Nature Sanctuary are attractive!
28. Jacobson Park
On 216 acres of land, Jacobson Park consists of a big reservoir excellent for kayaking, paddleboarding, or simply hanging out on the grass close to the shore. The park additionally has volleyball courts, a disc golf course, and extra. Of all of the inexperienced areas in Lexington, this one is among the finest for a quiet afternoon in nature.
27. Shaker Village of Nice Hill
Simply 45 minutes outdoors of Lexington is Shaker Village of Nice Hill. Vacationers from everywhere in the world go to Shaker Village every year to get a glimpse into the previous of a society that was capable of thrive off the land.The Shakers have been a spiritual group that was lively in Nice Hill from 1805 to 1910.
This 3,000-acre landmark is among the most well-preserved websites of Shaker historical past. The nonprofit group Shaker Village has labored exhausting to take care of the 34 unique historic buildings, a nature protect, and conserved farmland on the positioning. You may even keep in Shaker Village’s inn!
As the house of 9 well-known bourbon distilleries, Bardstown is one among Kentucky’s most notable bourbon locations. Not solely that, however the city additionally has the Bardstown Civil War Museum, the fourth-largest such museum within the nation. It is usually residence to Kentucky’s “official outside drama” (“The Stephen Foster Story”) and even has a complete exhibit devoted to ladies’s roles within the struggle.
Bardstown has a picturesque city sq. and is total a lovely little city to go to. You may e book a complete weekend getaway there, full with loads of bourbon-filled experiences, here.
Recognized to have probably the most stunning capitol buildings within the nation, this small capital metropolis deserves a spot in your Kentucky bucket checklist. Situated alongside the Kentucky River between Louisville and Lexington, Frankfort is completely tucked into the inexperienced hills and is surrounded by nature. Right here you’ll discover outdoor adventure, historic relics, and, after all, loads of bourbon.
24. Bowling Inexperienced
As one among Kentucky’s many bustling faculty cities, Bowling Inexperienced has a novel combine of latest and outdated, historic and progressive. You’ll discover venerable neighborhoods full with colonial structure and manicured lawns, in addition to a few of Kentucky’s finest museums. One in all them is the National Corvette Museum, which takes guests on a journey by means of the enduring historical past of America’s sports activities automotive.
Bowling Inexperienced can also be the right launching level for Mammoth Cave Nationwide Park (extra on that later!), so think about staying right here an evening or two throughout your Kentucky journey to benefit from this attraction-filled space.
If you’re an American historical past fanatic, you received’t wish to miss out on a go to to Newport. This quaint riverside group was once set to become what is now Las Vegas. Actually, the city was as soon as residence to many casinos and was frequented by none aside from Frank Sinatra, who carried out there. Even Las Vegas’s nickname, “Sin Metropolis,” was first utilized to Newport earlier than it was given to Las Vegas.
Since Newport is so near Cincinnati, Ohio, you possibly can take a sunset cruise to see the Cincinnati skyline from Newport.
This one is for all of the cyclists on the market! London is one among Kentucky’s designated “path cities,” due to its entry to street biking, mountain biking, and climbing trails. It’s subsequent to Daniel Boone Nationwide Forest, so nature lovers discover London the perfect place to stay whereas they discover close by parks, trails, and forests.
Referred to as “The Quilt Metropolis,” Paducah is America’s quilt-making capital. Actually, UNESCO dubbed Paducah a Metropolis of Crafts and People Artwork in 2013. You may find out about this legacy on the National Quilt Museum.
As quickly as you arrive in Paducah, you’ll notice that this small city is something however extraordinary. The customer’s heart is housed in a restored 1860s mansion, which actually units the stage for a historic journey. Benefit from the city’s peace and quiet with a stroll alongside the river and a stroll by means of city to see the historic buildings.
Owensboro is a small metropolis packed filled with all of the issues that make Kentucky nice. It has among the state’s finest barbecue joints, bluegrass music venues, and artwork museums.
Take a look at the Owensboro Museum of Advantageous Artwork, the place you’ll discover a sculpture park and folks artwork relationship again to the fifteenth century.
Owensboro is legendary for its mutton barbeque, so in the event you’re a meat eater you shouldn’t depart city with out making an attempt it at both Outdated Hickory Bar-B-Que or Ole South Bar-B-Q.
19. Worldwide Bluegrass Music Museum
No journey to Owensboro is full with out a cease on the Worldwide Bluegrass Music Museum. We’re itemizing this place all by itself as a result of it’s simply one of many high sights within the state. Even in the event you’re new to bluegrass music, this museum is bound to maintain you entertained all day lengthy with its interactive reveals and nuggets of historical past all through. You’ll see quite a lot of neat classic devices, study concerning the style’s most influential musicians, and see the evolution of the style through the years.
Get your tickets here.
That is the final word vacation spot for journey seekers in Kentucky. Stanton is the right launching level for climbing and biking trails, with direct entry to the Purple River Gorge Scenic Byway. The Red River Gorge has over 100 stone arches and several other waterfalls, together with the picturesque Nada Tunnel. It additionally has a novel panorama that’s ready to be explored.
Nationwide Parks, State Parks, and Extra
17. Mammoth Cave Nationwide Park
Mammoth Cave Nationwide Park is among the most beloved locations in Kentucky. This wonderful pure marvel is residence to the longest recorded cave system on this planet, at over 400 miles explored and mapped. Cave tours are a wonderful approach to get conversant in among the park’s most notable caves.
Not solely is the park adored for its pure magnificence, but it surely additionally holds many tales from the individuals who used to reside there, from the unique settlements of Native People to colonial settlers to the African People who have been an important guides and explorers of the caves within the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
16. Daniel Boone Nationwide Forest
You might acknowledge the title Daniel Boone in the event you’re into outdoorsman historical past. This massive forest spans greater than two million acres and gives over 600 miles of trails to discover. Sandstone cliffs are excellent for mountain climbing, and the abundance of rivers and lakes creates the right atmosphere for individuals who get pleasure from getting out on the water. Though most of the trails have been initially supposed just for climbing, mountain biking is feasible in lots of areas. Backpackers and different campers will benefit from the many forest campgrounds.
15. Cumberland Hole Nationwide Historic Park
The mountainous surroundings at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park is simply one of many many causes to pay a go to. Past the beautiful views from hidden overlooks, you’ll discover epic sandstone formations, plentiful underground caverns, and loads of plant and animal life all over the place.
There’s a wealth of historical past to uncover right here. This wonderful nationwide historic park is residence to the Hensley Settlement, which provides guests a time-warping take a look at a twentieth century mountain group settlement. The Wilderness Highway Path will take you on an equally thrilling journey within the footsteps of Native People, early settlers, and Civil Conflict troopers.
14. Land Between the Lakes Nationwide Recreation Space
As one of many largest areas of undeveloped forest in the USA, the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area is about as rugged because it will get. Stretching over 170,000 acres of forests and wetlands, there’s loads of nature to admire right here. There are 300 miles of pure shoreline, providing alternatives to camp, picnic, hike, and bike.
Along with over 500 miles of trails all through the park to get pleasure from, you possibly can go to the Woodlands Nature Station, Elk & Bison Prairie, Homeplace 1850s Working Farm, or Golden Pond Planetarium and Observatory for genuine instructional experiences.
Land Between the Lakes can also be the best place for a street journey, with unimaginable scenic drives and walks.
13. Cumberland Falls State Resort Park
If you wish to see one thing almost as majestic as Niagara Falls with out leaving the South, ensure that so as to add Cumberland Falls State Park to your Kentucky itinerary. It will get its nickname, “the Niagara of the South,” because of the 68-foot tall and 125-foot large waterfall. One of many coolest issues about this waterfall, in addition to its immense measurement, is that it’s one of many few locations on this planet the place you possibly can see a moonbow, aka a lunar rainbow. If the sky is obvious on the evening of a full moon, you may be capable of see one in every of of its magnificent glory.
Along with the plain go to to the falls, Cumberland Falls State Resort Park is overflowing with adventurous issues to do (see what I did there?). Go birding within the park, rafting on the Cumberland River, tenting at one of many 50 campsites, or climbing on 17 miles of trails. You may even attempt your hand at gem mining.
12. Breaks Interstate Park
Situated proper on the Kentucky-Virginia state border is the severely underrated Breaks Interstate Park. Spanning 4,500 acres of greenwood lands filled with mountainous surroundings, that is one among solely two interstate parks within the nation the place park rangers of each states have authority within the park it doesn’t matter what aspect of the border. This attractive pure space has the biggest canyon east of the Mississippi River, which spans 5 miles and is 1,650 toes deep, incomes its nickname “the Grand Canyon of the South.”
Breaks Interstate Park is a haven for rock climbers, campers, and hikers alike. Irrespective of the way you select to benefit from the park, you’re actually in for a deal with.
11. Huge South Fork Nationwide River & Recreation Space
Huge South Fork Nationwide River & Recreation Space is also known as a large outside playground, and for good motive. This 125,000-acre recreation space options rugged gorges and pristine forests, together with quite a few streams and, after all, the thunderous Huge South Fork of the Cumberland River.
Outdoor activities at the Big South Fork National River embrace climbing by means of forests and gorges, horseback driving, mountain climbing sandstone cliffs, and paddling and swimming in crystal-clear waters. This recreation space can also be an excellent place to camp and backpack.
10. The Pinnacles of Berea
In 2019, Outside Magazine named the Pinnacles of Berea hike the #1 hike in Kentucky. If that isn’t sufficient to spark your curiosity, guests who get pleasure from peace and quiet love this hike due to its sparse crowds and unimaginable views of the Daniel Boone Nationwide Forest.
This stellar hike is simple to get to from Berea, Kentucky, and is even an ideal spot to remain when you go to Purple River Gorge and different huge close by sights. Having such an superior hike just like the Pinnacles Hike is simply the cherry on high.
9. My Outdated Kentucky Residence State Park
This can be a state park not like some other. You most likely affiliate state parks with climbing trails and the good open air, however a few of this park’s finest options are literally indoors. It’s residence to the property of US Sen. John Rowan, which holds 200 years of tales, from duels to horse racing to household fortunes and every little thing in between. You may tour the mansion and listen to guides sing a particular track on each tour.
8. Solar Valley Horse Farm
This basic horse farm’s slogan is “On the Crossroad of Bourbon & Horses.” It makes a neat connection between horses and bourbon by means of its ties to bourbon pioneer Elijah Pepper. The easiest way to expertise Solar Valley is on a guided tour, which leads company by means of the farm to witness the inside workings of an award-winning thoroughbred horse farm nursery.
7. Hermitage Farm
Hermitage Farm is greater than only a horse farm and nursery. Past working a famend thoroughbred operation, the farm additionally prides itself on its sustainable and natural agriculture. You may even get a style of Heritage Farm’s farm-fresh produce at its Barn8 Farm Restaurant.
Within the temper for some bourbon? You are able to do a bourbon tasting that includes merchandise from any of the distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon path.
This farm gives a very well-rounded view of Kentucky’s wealthy agricultural tradition and historical past. Select from various tours and tastings at Hermitage Farm to get essentially the most out of your go to.
6. Claiborne Farm
This one is for the historical past buffs on the market. Claiborne Farm is among the most iconic thoroughbred horse farms in Kentucky, finest identified for being the ultimate resting place of probably the most well-known horses in historical past, Secretariat.
Claiborne Farm offers historic tours of the on-site amenities, taking company on a journey by means of the farm’s origin story up till current day with a take a look at how the working farm takes care of the beautiful beauties that stay there.
5. The Pete Treehouse
This completely off-grid treehouse was a part of Animal Planet’s Treehouse Masters and is now one of many coolest Airbnbs you’ll discover in Kentucky. Pete Nelson is the mastermind behind the development of the treehouse, which is tucked away in nature about 1.5 hours from Lexington. The place is stuffed with considerate touches, together with a fireplace pit and balcony.
After watching Kristin’s treehouse adventure, you’re most likely getting enthusiastic about staying in a treehouse, so don’t miss out on this one while you go to Kentucky!
4. Harland Sanders Café and Museum
These days, yow will discover a KFC in nearly any nation on this planet. Have you ever puzzled about how it began, although? On the Harland Sanders Café and Museum in Corbin, you’ll be capable of see the birthplace of Kentucky Fried Hen at Colonel Sanders’ unique restaurant.
Not solely are you able to truly dine on the Harland Sanders Café and Museum, however you possibly can then tour the constructing and see all types of artifacts and memorabilia from the well-known restaurateur’s legacy.
3. Vent Haven Museum
Within the small city of Fort Mitchell is the world’s solely museum devoted to ventriloquism: the Vent Haven Museum. That is by far one of many strangest locations I’ve ever seen whereas researching a vacation spot, and now it has been bumped up fairly excessive on my bucket checklist.
The museum has over 900 dummies, that includes some which were on TV and in films, all from the private assortment of William Shakespeare Berger. If you happen to’re a fan of bizarre museums and occur to be driving by means of Fort Mitchell, you’ll positively wish to make a pit cease right here.
2. Historic Diamond Caverns
Situated proper subsequent to Mammoth Cave Nationwide Park, this distinctive attraction is a must-visit when you’re within the space. Its cathedral-like caverns function cascades of naturally colourful calcite and different mind-blowing formations. Guided tours are available and are the right approach to see the attractive caverns and find out about their attention-grabbing historical past.
1. Kentucky Kingdom
I’m an enormous fan of curler coasters, so I can’t skip out on including Kentucky Kingdom to this checklist. This theme park could also be small in comparison with megaparks like Six Flags and Disney World, but it surely’s a captivating homegrown spot that locals adore. There are 5 curler coasters, a 5-D cinema, and loads of different fun attractions to enjoy.
As you possibly can see, Kentucky is stuffed with quirky surprises and plentiful pure magnificence. There are many wonderful locations simply ready to be found by vacationers who’re new to the state and in addition by locals trying to study extra about what there’s to do close to them!
Are you a Kentucky native? Which locations did we miss this time? Tell us the place your secret spots are!